The setup Tuesday night at Safeco Field suggested an easy Mariners win: Cy Young candidate Felix Hernandez, unbeaten since May 25, on the mound, Seattle’s hitters facing Josh Johnson (1-8, 6.60 ERA), winless with a 9.00 ERA since June 23. Naturally, the Mariners failed to seize the moment, suffering an embarrassing 7-2 loss to a team going nowhere.
Jose Reyes lofted Hernandez’s first pitch over the wall in right for a home run and the Blue Jays tacked on five more, three earned, before Hernandez departed after five innings. Carter Capps, just recalled from AAA Tacoma, got through the sixth but in the seventh, gave up a run-scoring double to Edwin Encarnacion.
The drive went into the left field corner, where Raul Ibanez picked up the ball and instead of throwing to second, inexplicably spiked the ball to his left and watched it trickle into center field. It was the worst of a season-high four errors for the Mariners that will be the No. 1 video gaffe of the day, if not the season.
The Mariners (52-61) lost two straight and nine of 13 since the end of their eight-game winning streak.
Hernandez (11-5) didn’t have his usually spectacular stuff. Ended was his six-game winning streak during a 12-start stretch. Reyes was his main nemesis with the home run and a run-scoring single.
Seattle had multiple chances to score against Johnson but didn’t convert until he was out of the game. A two-run triple by Brad Miller in the seventh off Juan Perez prevented the Mariners from suffering their first shutout since July 27. Johnson scattered five hits, with five strikeouts and two walks.
In addition to Hernandez’s tepid performance and Seattle’s poor situational hitting, the Mariners made three errors that led to four runs. Two of the errors occurred in the fourth, when Toronto scored three times.
In the fourth, Emilio Bonifacio’s two-run single and Reyes’ run-scoring hit shoved Hernandez and the Mariners into a 4-0 hole.
That marked the first time sine June 20 that Hernandez had allowed more than two earned runs in a start.
In the fifth, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie delivered back-to-back run-scoring singles to make it 6-0. That did it for Hernandez, who left after three earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
The season series for the teams ends Wednesday with a 12:40 p.m. matinee at Safeco Field. RHP Aaron Harang (5-10, 5.27) will start for Seattle opposite RHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 4.91), making his first start since returning from the disabled list.
The Mariners are off Thursday and begin a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers Friday. Saturday, the Mariners enshrine Ken Griffey Jr. into the club’s Hall of Fame prior to the 6:10 p.m. first pitch.
NOTES: The Mariners Tuesday sent closer Tom Wilhelmsen to AAA Tacoma and recalled RHP Carter Capps. Wilhelmsen, with 24 saves in 29 chances, had not pitched since surrendering four runs without recording at out Aug. 1 at Boston. Wilhelmsen started against Iowa and allowed three hits, including two home runs, and took the loss . . .Justin Smoak went 1-for-3 Tuesday, extending his hitting streak to seven games . . . Kendrys Morales went 1-for-4 and is 17-for-34 (.500) over his last eight games . . . Felix Hernandez has had three streaks of at least 12 consecutive starts in which he has not recorded a loss, including the one that ended Tuesday. He had a career-high 14 consecutive starts without a loss June 17-Aug. 27, 2012, and 12 straight Aug. 28, 2009-April 21, 2010. Scott Bankhead made 15 conscutive starts without a loss in 1989.